Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: Things I Should Have Known - Claire LaZebnik

Things I Should Have Known
Claire LaZebnik
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017

Things Chloe Knew: Her sister, Ivy, was lonely. Ethan was a perfect match. Ethan's brother, David, was an arrogant jerk.
Things Chloe Should Have Known: Setups are complicated. Ethan could be a perfect boyfriend...but probably not for Ivy. David might be the one person who really gets Chloe.  
I went into this book thinking that it was a romance, but it was so, so much more. This story is told from Chloe's point of view, and she is an attractive, smart, popular girl dating one of the most popular and attractive boys at school. From the outside, you would think Chloe has it all, but her home life is far from perfect. Her stepfather is overbearing, her mother is needy, and her sister autistic. Chloe puts on a good front, but her home life leaves her feeling isolated, as her friends just cannot relate or understand.
"You have a great boyfriend and you do well at school and everyone likes you," she said to me when she was explaining her theory. "You're even blond. So of course your family situation is a little, you know...challenging. That's life keeping things in balance."
Chloe feels obligated to be there for her sister, but yearns to live her own life. From there, an idea is born to find a friend for Ivy. The idea of putting Ivy and Ethan together seems perfect, until Chloe finds out that Ethan's brother is her nemesis, David.
"I don't mind coming along."
"Even if you have to hang out with the most hated member of your class?"
"Don't flatter yourself," I say. "No one cares enough about you to hate you."
I don't know where to start, so I will start with David and Chloe. I loved these two. I found the verbal sparring from the early chapters delicious, and the honest, deep discussion in the later chapters quite touching. These two carried a lot on their shoulders. They both had siblings with autism, who they felt they needed to care for and protect, because their parents were not quite up to the challenge. They found comfort in each other, and gave each other the type of support only those in the same situation could. They both struggled with their own wants and needs, and the needs of their siblings. Finding that balance was difficult, and came at a cost.
"You're a good brother," I say.
"I make up for that by being a horrible human being in every other way."
I absolutely adored LaZenik's writing. It was full of wit, humor, affection, and honesty. There was such an ease to it, and the story just flowed naturally. When reading the afterword, I was not surprised to find out that this book was written by a person who loves someone with autism, as Ivy and Ethan were portrayed honestly and respected in the story. LaZenik show the good, the bad, and the ugly that is out there. How the world can seem to those with autism, how poorly some people react to those with autism, and how wonderful someone on the spectrum can be. I appreciated how she brought me in their world, and thank her for her candor and honesty.
It's like people have a place in their brain for normal, and they have a place in their brain for something obviously wrong, but they can't deal with something a little bit different. 
There is quite a bit of lovely romance going on in this book. I found it all quite adorable, and loved every minute of it. I have feels over and over again. It was fantastic.

 This book sort of had everything I look for in a great YA contemporary: well thought out characters, great dialogue, honest portrayals, and growth. Growth is really important to me, as I always want my characters to have changed for the better, and LaZebnik gave me that.

Overall: A wonderful story of love, compassion, understanding, and acceptance filled with things that put a smile on my face and a pitter-patter in my heart.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for the advanced copy of this book

Ethan loved movie! 
Do you like movies? What are some of your favorites?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Legion - Julie Kagawa

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on Legion by Julie Kagawa.

Julie Kagawa
Series: Talon, #4
Release Date: April 25,  2017
Publisher: Mira Ink
Waited on by: Sam

The legions are about to be unleashed, and no human, rogue dragon or former dragon slayer can stand against the coming horde. Book 4 of 5 in The Talon Saga from New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa.

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all--dragons do not suffer human emotions--let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she's capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante--the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.

It's no secret, that I am a Kagawa fan. Her Iron Fey series remains one of my favorites, and Talon is on its way to joining that list. 

I loved book 1 and 2. Both were 5-star reads for me. So, when Soldier came out, I was really excited to read, what I thought, was the final book in the series. Lo and behold, there will be 5 books! You can see why I was sort of put off when the book ended in a very rude cliffy. Couple that, with the fact that my ship appeared to be sinking, you can see why I only gave the third book 4.5-stars.

Even after all of that, I still NEED this book. Kagawa often does this. She creates a situation, which breaks your heart a little or leaves you angry, but after reading a bunch of her books, I have grown to trust that this all happened for a good reason. So, I will eagerly await Legion, and keep my fingers crossed that I get those answers I so desperately seek. 

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. This post is for sharing what I read last week, what I am currently reading, and what I plan to read.

What I Read Last Week

I did very well with my book reading this week. I read ALL the books I planned to read. However, I abandoned two audiobooks. I just could not get into them. They had good reviews, but maybe they just didn't work on audio.

My favorite read this week, was When Dimple Met Rishi. My heart was exploding during this one. If you like fun and adorable contemporary romances with some cultural diversity, you will love this one.

What I Am Currently Reading

Other Breakable Things was sort of a teen version of Me Before You. It was a tragic love story, that left me a snotty mess. Therefore, I needed a fun read to follow it up, and I can count on R.S. Grey to bring the funny.

I am hoping for more success with my audiobook selection this week. Then and Always sounds promising as I am a fan of the books that are name dropped in the synopsis. Fingers crossed!

What I Plan to Read

I have been wanting to read both #scandal and Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. Rocks was available on Overdrive and #scandal is a Riveted free read. Yeah! All of the books I selected, with the exception of Rocks, is by an author I have read before, thus, I think this will be a great week.

What are you reading?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

#SignedBookSunday: This Shattered World - Kaufman & Spooner

This Shattered World 
Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

For #SignedBookSunday, I am featuring This Shattered World. This is the second book in a series that I adored. This book was a SciFi Romeo and Juliet, and did an amazing job advancing the story of the colonies and the whispers.

I was lucky enough to meet Megan Spooner at YallFest back in 2015, and was able to get my book signed. I was quite sad last year, because I was unable to attend the event again. To date, I would say this is one of my favorite bookish events. There are so many reasons to love this YallFest!

That time, when Sloth met Meagan Spooner

  • The event is essentially free. YallCrawl and almost all the panels are free of charge. There are a few ticketed events, but the charge is nominal. I paid $7 per ticket. 
  • It's in Charleston, South Carolina. This was my first trip to Charleston, and I have to say, it is a beautiful city. The people were lovely, and I ate some fantastic southern food. 
  • Usually, I am stuck in a convention center, but here, the festival takes over! It was so much fun, walking from place to place for different events, and there are book lovers everywhere! 
  • YallFest is packed with ah-mazing authors every year. There are tons of signing opportunities, and incredible panels. I struggled selecting the events to attend. 
  • The atmosphere was friendly and there was always someone on the line, who wanted to talk about their favorite books with you. 

I hope to attend YallFest again this year, and to someday attend YallWest as well. Fingers crossed!

What was the best bookish event you have attended?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: The Last Thing You Said - Sara Biren

The Last Thing You Said 
Sara Biren
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #ContRom2017, #NGEW2017, #DebutAuthorChallenge

The last thing she said --
It's a good day to have a good day." She leans in close to me and whispers, "BRB, Lucy. Promise me."
I knew this books would elicit tears, when a few escaped as I read the author's introductory note.

This is a sad story of what happens when a life is cut short. It's about those who are left behind, and how they are supposed to survive without that person. I lost several friends too soon, and therefore was able to relate to this story. Biren deftly portrayed people in the throes of grief. The primary focus of the story was Ben and Lucy, but she also included Trixie's parents and other family members. I appreciated that Biren did this, because she showed that grief, and how one deals with this grief, is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
Her life was short, but she did - she lived it.
This story really hit home for me on so many levels, as I lost several friends way too soon. It made me reflect on how I dealt with those losses. The coincidence that I finished reading this story on THIS day, which is always a little sad for me as I remember my good friend who I lost in a plane crash, was uncanny. It was many years ago, but I still hold a little piece of him in my heart and a little bit of the pain is still there too. So, yeah, I could relate to this story, and found that the pain and ache permeated this story was so real.
"Tell me a Trixie." I smile. This has become one of our favorite activities, a way I can keep Trixie alive.
The parts where memories of Trixie were shared were among my favorite parts of this book. I swear! Every one of them brought a smile to my face, and made my eyes shiny. These vignettes were so beautifully crafted, and radiated with love for their cherished friend and sister. They were just perfect. The picture of Trixie painted for us, was one of a girl who loved recklessly and lived her life out loud. She brought joy to those who she loved and who loved her back, but she had flaws, and I liked that Biren included those too.
Be really brave. BRB - our code.
The broken relationship between Ben and Lucy was so painful! There were times when I thought my heart just could not take any more. These two were so deep in their hole of anguish, that they were missing out on their best means for survival. It is here that I will thank Biren for giving both Ben and Lucy such wonderful support systems in the form of Guthrie and Hannah. Guthrie was this fabulous strong but silent type, who has this zen-mystical quality. And Hannah! Hannah was loud and showy and sometimes crass, but she was thoughtful, understanding, persistent when necessary, and perceptive. She knew exactly what Lucy needed and when. It was really touching the way she shared in Lucy's pain and wanted to help her remember Trixie, even though she never met her. #FriendshipGoals.

I really loved the way Biren worked the inuksuit into the story. The whole purpose of the inuksuit as a form of communication to say you were here or to tell someone they are on the right path. Ben used these structures as a way to find his way back: back to Lucy and back to himself. It was very poetic and beautiful.
I stack the rocks and they fall and I stack them again until I find balance.

Ben was so careful and methodical about it, so intent on achieving balance where there should be none.
And the ending image featuring the inuksuit just made my heart leap with joy.

Overall: A lovely and poignant story of love and loss which hit me right in the feels, and is leaving me wanting more from Sara Biren.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book

Do you enjoy lake sports?
Let us know in the comments!